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University of East London journalism alumna says industry experience is key to success

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Creative industries in the UK is the fastest growing sector in the economy  

Gaining industry experience during university has been invaluable in choosing a career path and attaining professional success, according to a UEL alumna.

Francesca Battaglia, who secured her dream job at a national newspaper months before her graduation in 2020, said continuous support and guidance from the University of East London made all the difference.

Having left her family in Italy, Francesca moved to London on her own to study BA Journalism. To support herself financially, she combined her studies with work in the media.

Throughout her degree, Francesca was producing and editing content for Rising East, the University’s independent publication, helping her gain confidence and put her learning into practice.

She also worked as an intern at the University on a project looking at the future of journalism and secured a job as a business reporter.

For Francesca, the pandemic forced her to adapt the way she worked. She said, “Reporting on how Covid-19 affected my home country of Italy allowed me to give readers a fresh perspective on the crisis. My diversity, combined with that of other students, allowed us to achieve effective coverage during the coronavirus pandemic, despite being in lockdown. 

“Although the pandemic required us to reconfigure the way we worked, I managed to commission and produce stories with particular news value across a variety of formats.”
As a journalist, Francesca learnt that you do not always get to write about what you like. Having worked in different formats and outlets through her degree, she gave up a paid role as a business reporter, to take up a freelance position as a video producer at The Sun.

She said, “When I left a full-time job for a freelance position I was scared as I didn’t know what to expect, but I followed my heart and I am glad I did. Although working in a newsroom is not always easy, I feel I am being my authentic self and doing what comes naturally.

“I am proud of my journey at UEL. I believe I wouldn’t have been able to achieve these results if I hadn’t continuously worked during these three years.

“The best thing about studying at UEL is its diversity. All the support I received from staff at UEL has been essential both for my academic results and my mental health.

“Moving to a foreign country on my own, being away from my family, continuously working –sometimes even two jobs at the time – while studying to maintain myself has not been easy, but it has been possible thanks to the continuous support and guidance of my lecturers and staff at UEL.”

Professor Simon Robertshaw, dean of the School of Arts and Creative Industries, said, “Creative industries in the UK is the fastest growing sector in the economy and we are based in the creative capital of the world – London. At the University of East London, we strive to provide our students with strong industry links – placements, collaborations and staff with real industry experience. This is part of our careers-first education.

“Francesca is a wonderful example of how our courses create some of the key talent that is helping shape the future of the UK’s creative economy.”